Alexandra (1983)

Directed with amazing assurance by frustratingly uneven Tim McDonald (whose best work includes Talk Dirty to Me Part 2 and the heavy duty personal favorite Play Me Again, Vanessa) and lavishly produced by legendary lust luminary David Friedman, Alexandra represents an unusually ambitious approach to porn this comparatively late in the day, a smart sexed-up rendition of Joe Mankiewicz’s delectably ironic melodrama A Letter to Three Wives no less. What may surprise most of all is just how close this version actually stays to its source, faithfully transposing characters and situations from the original to the fornication film format.

Hollywood legends Ann Sothern, Linda Darnell and Jeanne Crain as the titular wedlocked trio have been replaced by their adult industry counterparts Rachel Ashley (still test-driving alternative adult aliases as “Ashley Summer“), tragically deceased Tina Ross aka “Lauren Wilde” and Joanna Storm respectively. Each of them excels at playing an upper middle class (and desperate ?) suburban housewife secretly harboring a skeleton in her closet. The frequently heard yet never more than glimpsed Alexandra (Eve Sternberg for body, voice over narration by Stephanie Rogers), a childhood acquaintance of their husbands, threatens to expose all of their dirty little secrets as she so helpfully informs them over the phone the very day the three of them are due for a charity picnic. She also announces that she will leave their lives for good that same evening, taking one of their better halves along with her ! The ladies’ guilty reminiscences make for the movie’s many exciting erotic episodes.

Devoted secretary Ashley, the unforgettable award-winning lead from Edwin Brown’s exceptional Every Woman Has a Fantasy, dallies with her slimy employer Michael Gaunt (excellent in the late Roger Watkins’ thought-provoking American Babylon, an arthouse/grindhouse hybrid ripe for rediscovery) who casually introduces a very aggressive Sharon Kane for surplus steam. Subsequently, she has a terrific gender-reversal sorry-I-forgot-our-anniversary fireplace fling with schoolmarm husband Eric Edwards. Spoiled slut Ross,who casually stole Henning “Hans Christian” Schellerup’s Tomboy from supposed star Melanie Scott, was rescued from the wrong side of the tracks by wealthy businessman Bob Bolla but continues carrying on sordid affairs with the lascivious likes of Ashley Moore. Prim ‘n proper, butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth Joanna Storm will do anything to keep her man (handsome Steven Douglas, Gina Gianetti’s shy sibling from Bill Milling’s original All American Girls) from finding out about her porno past.

Fornicating on film may be these people’s primary talent, as per popular (mis)conception, but their acting surely runs a very close second on this occasion. The ravishing Ross, who was killed in a car crash at the height of her popularity heartbreakingly aged a mere 19, pretty much steals the picture as the conniving golddigger who belatedly discovers her actual affection for the mogul she opportunistically wed.  The ever brilliant Bolla supplies the perfectly stoic foil for this raging force of nature nipped all too soon in the bud. Storm and Ashley, both in the early stages of what were to become astronomical adult careers, already showed considerable promise made good on by their eventual exploits. The esteemed well beyond genre borders Larry Revene contributes his customary sterling camera work in a rare job for a filmmaker other than Chuck Vincent. Only a slightly cheap-sounding synthesizer music score lets the side down somewhat. But for screenplay suffused with snappy dialogue (by Friedman’s fellow sexploitation sire Don Walters), awesome acting achievement and sincerely scalding sex, adult movies never came a whole lot better than this.

Directed by Tim McDonald (as Robert Freeman). Written by Don Walters (as Daniel Walker). Produced by David F. Friedman, Walters (as Walker) & E. Clayton for Card Productions & VCA Pictures. Photographed by Larry Revene. Music by Jabogar. Edited by Ron Wertheim (as Arlo Shiffin). Starring Rachel Ashley (as Ashley Summer) (Pat Cooper), Tina Ross (as Lauren Wilde) (Jennifer Holloway), Joanna Storm (Diane Ballard), Eric Edwards (Martin Cooper), Robert Bolla (Foster Holloway), Steven Douglas (Cliff Ballard), Michael Gaunt (Jason Starrett), Sharon Kane (Anita), Ashley Moore (Steve), Don Fernando (Stag Film Performer), Reg Wilson (Nick Booth), Eve Sternberg (Alexandra) & Stephanie Rogers (Alexandra’s Voice). Running time : 99 minutes.

Rachel Ashley impressed fans and critics alike with awesome acting ability aside from her more obvious and entirely natural attributes

By Dries Vermeulen

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